Airlines, taxis, limos, cruises, and other modes of travel to vacation destinations are carrying higher price tags due to the increase in crude oil prices. Airlines are flying fewer flights; gas-guzzling family cars and SUVs aren’t up to the economic challenge of cross-country trips; and cruise prices can be dicey (although great last-minute deals are available, if you can wait and are willing to take your chances). How can you beat the economic blight on your vacation plans? Think one-tank trips.
One-tank trips are places you can visit on a single tank of gas. Where can you go? Lots of places. And you may find some one-of-a-kind surprises along the way. One-tank trips can take you through your area or state, giving you a new appreciation for state parks, scenic drives, artist colonies, local history, and culture.
State parks were established even before the United States National Park Service was created. Forty-six of our 48 contiguous states have state park systems. Many are the sites of spectacular natural wonders, such as Montana’s Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, or the granite dome in Texas’ Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Others are the site of historic events. Alaska’s Independence Mine State Historical Park is where gold was first found in that state. Still other parks bear witness to ancient Indian tribes, such as the Aqua-Plano Indians. Around 6,000 BC, they lived in the area of Wisconsin now known as the Kohler-Andrae State Park.
Day fees for state parks are typically $5 or less. Coupled with the wonders you can find in state parks are the scenic drives that take you there. Ditto for visiting state historic sites.
What was your state’s first capitol? Don’t know? Take a one-tank trip and find out. Enjoy the architecture and soak up the local ambiance. The experience also provides ready-made ‘teachable moments’ for your children. If you find a weekend festival in progress, that’s a bonus.
One-tank trips often take you off the beaten path. That’s how you can find the heart of the area. You may stumble upon the most charming bed and breakfast inn less than an hour from your house. Or you may find an out-of-the-way diner with the best mouth-watering tenderloin sandwich you’ve ever eaten―at half the price of what it would cost in the city. Pecan pie better than Grandma’s may be waiting in another local restaurant. And who would think that a world-class theater could flourish 150 miles away from a major city? It’s all there, if you take some time to do your homework and let yourself meander a bit.
Most states have local wine-making country or microbreweries―many of which are renowned. Scope out yours if thirst demands it. You’ll have fun tasting their specialties, and you can come away with a great dinner accompaniment. Local artist colonies can be a source of joy. Treasured finds can be hand-blown glass ornaments made in the manner of European artisans, or unique paintings, clothes, sculpture, and more.
Many state chamber of commerce websites have sections devoted to one-tank trips. Local news outlets routinely publish stories on their websites about one-tank trips. Magazines and other print publications can offer similar suggestions. You can find plenty of information on the Internet as well―all you have to do is type ‘one-tank trips’ into your favorite search engine along with the city you live in, and you’ll find a wealth of information about trips in your local area. Or you can just point your car in a general direction and go.
One-tank trips enable you to get away with the family, explore, and enjoy time together without blighting your wallet. If the kids get a little cranky, you could find one of those ubiquitous ice cream or burger places somewhere―but who would want it, when that incredibly luscious, melt-in-your-mouth pecan pie could be just around the corner?